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While the miserable creatures of Manowar ramble about "Pleasure Slaves", Leather Leone shows them how true heavy metal works. In contrast to Sabina Classen of Holy Moses, she makes excellent use of her voice without denying her femininity. Furthermore, she cannot be confused with Doro Pesch, because Leather delivers really raw and powerful vocals. She is rather screaming than singing, but she makes the difference. The music of "Ruler of the Wasteland" is good, but most pieces cannot be praised as spectacular. Anyway, Leather's sensational charisma pushes the song material on a higher level and therefore we find some real gems on this output.
Jester deMaio probably still thinks that he is God's gift for the female part of the world population, but this is his exclusive point of view. Yet it is true that Leather's voice is a wonderful present for the heavy metal fans worldwide. She manages the different challenges in an amazing manner. On the one hand, "Angel of Mercy" is the prototype of a power ballad. Its emotional, slightly eerie guitars coalesce with the fervent vocals in a great manner. On the other hand, a nearly brutal thrasher like the fatalistic "One Day to Live" uncovers a battle between the guitars and the screams of Leather. The perfectly flowing chorus adds a catchy element and marks the culmination point of this sonic diamond. Without neglecting the necessary amount of melodies, "One Day to Live" picks up the atmosphere of the slightly apocalyptic artwork. By the way, who is the guy on the cover who wants to be knocked down by the car behind him? Look at his haircut, is it mastermind Chastain himself? However, I am sure that Leather is driving the car in the background and grins behind the wheel.
Well, the old men of Manowar sit and fart in their living rooms. In a very rare moment of self-reflexion, they ask themselves when did they lose their creativity. By contrast, Chastain are still alive and their album from 2015 is not too far away from the here presented work. "Ruler of the Wasteland" sometimes borders on thrash ("Living in a Dreamworld") and has some epic, meaningful riff monster ("Children of Eden"), but the core competency of Chastain is power metal. The full sound supports this kind of metal brilliantly. The riffs of the mastermind convey a profound heaviness, only "The King has the Power" is irritating, because this king has absolutely no power. However, this piece with its crude bass lines and the spiritless chorus marks the exception to the rule. The opening title track possesses a comparatively simple structure; nevertheless, this track represents the general style of "Ruler of the Wasteland". Those of you who like the mighty, non-commercial opener will find further numbers that are worth listening to.
DeMaio is (or plays the role of) an egocentric imbecile. He will never understand that traditional heavy metal is, among other things, based on team work. Okay, today we have these countless legions of lone wolfs; many of them wander through the forests of their home countries and whisper their depressive poems. They probably think that this is great art, but we think that it is the most effective form to play the fool. Yet back in the eighties, a small group of musicians marked the microcosm of outsiders and a constantly growing group of fans formed the equivalent macrocosm. Both Leather and Chastain have understood the team concept and any form of vanity does not appear on "Ruler of the Wasteland". Despite their individual capabilities, the focus is put on the songs themselves. Thus, it comes as no surprise that they score with compactness, power and directness. Listen, Joey, women can do their jobs very well and they are able to provide the greatest pleasure, but they are no slaves. (And don't think that I felt the need to write this sentence only in order to fight against my own chauvinist tendency that comes through from time to time.)
Just by glancing at the album art, you can probably tell what you're getting yourself into when it comes time to listen to "Ruler of the Wasteland." This is epic heavy/power metal of top form with plenty of Judas Priest and Maiden worshiping going on. Chastain is a band that is for some reason, not as popular as they should have been. I rarely ever see mentions of this band on the internet and I stumbled across them by accident myself, but I'm fucking glad that I did. The band's first record "Mystery of Illusion" honestly isn't anything worth writing home about, as it's solid, but it just can't compete with this greatly improved sophomore album, a record boasting epic atmospheres, catchy hooks and fantastic melodies throughout.
"Ruler of the Wasteland" starts off with the title track and immediately the listener is grabbed by the shredding solos and the catchy Judas Priest-inspired riff that follows. But then the vocals come in, and I'm sure if I didn't tell you or you didn't look it up yourself, you would never guess that Chastain was fronted by a female in Leather Leone. Her vocals are plenty aggressive (well, as far as power metal goes. Think David Wayne of Metal Church), but there are also plenty of moments where she hits the real high notes and she does so with the greatest of ease. The range of Leone's vocals is a definite highlight on this album, as it provides the listener with some added variety to the already varied music. Some of the tracks are typical power metal tunes that feature typical riffage and shredding solos galore, with "One Day to Live" and "Fighting to Stay Alive" being the main ones to follow this archetype. Tracks like "The King Has the Power" and "There Will Be Justice" travel a more unorthodox route, using the bass as the focal point of the music at points and mixing in the acoustic sections with the rest of the music, but the songs are fine nonetheless.
Of course, I said Chastain has their epic material and that's really when they're at their best. "Angel of Mercy" is the best track on "Ruler of the Wasteland" with its chilling intro, terrific riffs, stellar melodies and solos, and of course the soaring vocals that top everything off. I guarantee this song will be stuck in your head for a while. "Living in a Dreamworld" and "The Battle of Nevermore" are also pretty epic in their own right, though they just can't measure up to the brilliance of "Angel of Mercy" (Then again, that would be asking too much). "Ruler of the Wasteland" is just another awesome album that came out in the year where so many masterpieces were released that it unfortunately got lost in the shuffle, but that's no reason to doubt the top-notch material here, so check out Chastain immediately or heads will roll...
"Ruler of the Wasteland"
"Angel of Mercy"
"Living in a Dreamworld"
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.
After hearing this release and "The Voice of the Cult", I'm really surprised there's hardly any reviews for this band here, so far. This band has absolutely everything needed to be a great classic, out there with Omen, Attacker, Judas Priest, Metal Church, Iron Maiden, Jag Panzer, just to name a few. Although I've heard other albums from them probably just as good as this one, I decided to review this one first since its the earliest one I have, and kind of comes off as the most aggressive. The performance here with each musician is top notch, giving this a lot of energy and power. This album is definitely fast, furious riffs, quick combo's of drumming, and great melodic vocals are to be found here.
The one thing that impressed me the most about this album, and half this bands history is vocalist Leather Leone. If I didn't pay attention to the information about this band, and didn't know the vocalist is a woman, I probably would have had absolutely no clue. You can't really tell at all, and she's got an extremely nice and aggressive voice. Her singing could probably be best compared to David Wayne or Mike Howe, both from Metal Church. She can hit those high notes extremely easily, and carries them on effortlessly, and she gives off tons of aggression when needed. Her range is just downright awesome. I really didn't know what to expect when I saw the vocalist was female, but I was completely knocked out of my seat when I finally listened to them. Again, you can't even tell. Then again this could possibly be a minor and pointless detail for many out there. I just honestly have not heard a lot of female vocalists in my time when it comes to metal and my experiences with some (see Scanner's "Scrantropolis" album) weren't the greatest, but my opinion on what they can do changed with Chastain.
There really aren't any bad moments here on this album. The balance is nice, and this is overall top notch fast Heavy Metal. There's enough atmosphere here at times to give them kind of a dark image every once and awhile. There's even a few epic songs on here, like "The Battle of Nevermore". Expect a lot of choruses with the great Leone, but these definitely aren't filled with cheese or too happy for the picky folks. All in all, I think the majority of this band could be seen as Metal Church's sister (hence the female vocals!). The sound and styles are pretty similar, but Chastain manages to come off as slightly more straight forward and possibly easier to get into, not that Metal Church is bad in anyway (trust me, I love them). Definitely a high recommendation for the fans of traditional 80's metal.